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Lobbying on climate change and foreign aid reform

Feinstein ONE Meeting Sept 09

On Tuesday, LA ONE volunteers met with a staff member from Senator Feinstein’s office.  Keith, ONE member from Santa Clarita, introduced our group and provided a history of ONE’s advocacy to end extreme poverty.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest countries and U.S. foreign assistance reform.  Sally, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills, asked the senator to support funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change.  The representative from Senator Feinstein’s office said the climate change bill will likely be introduced near the end of the fall. 

Amy Quinn, Volunteer Team Leader for ONE, provided a history of ONE’s work in Los Angeles and thanked Senator Feinstein for supporting life-saving programs for people living on less than one dollar a day.  Amy also spoke about the pressing need to reform our U.S. foreign assistance.  “As people who advocate for an increase in foreign aid, we want to know that those dollars are used in the best way possible.  Foreign aid reform is one way to do that.  Reform efforts will not only make our aid more effective in the fight against poverty, but also more transparent,” said Amy.  Holly Hight, California field organizer with Bread for the World, asked Senator Feinstein to cosponsor S. 1524 – the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009.  The bill was introduced in late July by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) along with Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN).  She explained that the bill will strengthen funding for the United States Agency for International Development and provide accountability mechanisms to ensure aid effectiveness. 

Finally, Glen Peterson from Whittier Community Church shared a moving story of how his church mobilized around one community in Malawi.  A few years ago, the congregation participated in the Leadership Summit where they saw a video with Bono and Bill Hybels.  Bono challenged the church everywhere to do more in the fight to reduce global poverty, hunger and disease.  In response, Whittier Community Church partnered with a local community in Malawi to build a clinic.  The church asked for donations to build the clinic and people generously responded.  In the end, the church raised over $600,000 to build the clinic and provide medical support for the community.  A father in Malawi said that his daughter would not have health care if it wasn’t for this facility.  The entire group was moved by this story of faith in action.

In the end, we asked the representative, “What can we do to continue to raise awareness about this topic and connect with your office about it?”  He encouraged us to continue to write letters, make phone calls and do what we are doing – meet with the office.  He said, “Writing a letter is the most effective way to communicate with our office.  A hand-written letter is best.”  ONE volunteers throughout the state will continue to advocate for these issues in the coming months.

 

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